Life and Challenge


August 17, 2012



I imagine that many of you are visiting my site for the first time today, after just having watched The Brooke Ellison Story. I also imagine that this is a somewhat unusual way to get to know someone, through seeing a movie about her life. The Brooke Ellison Story first aired on television nearly 8 years ago, and even to this day, it still strikes me as odd when people tell me they have seen it. For all of us, life is not what we ever expect it to be, and the inevitable challenges that befall us are not what make us who we are. It’s the desire to overcome these challenges that does. I am not unique in this, as the existence of challenge is one of the dimensions of humanity that unites us all. I do, though, feel quite privileged in the opportunity I’ve had to share my life with you because, though challenge befalls us all, sometimes we need a little reminder about how much stronger we are than we believe ourselves to be.

There are plenty of times when I, like anyone else, experience many of the frustrations that intrude our hearts. Whether those emanate from struggles with being denied some of the opportunities that others have, from a relationship that didn’t turn out the way I had hoped or expected, or from any unanticipated turn that might be thrown in what I may have thought to be a steady path, there are times when life can seem victimizing. But, in every single one of these instances, every single time the shadows seem to be lengthening into the sunlight, I’m reminded of how truly and exceedingly fortunate I am. And, the reasons I’ve been so fortunate are a result of the challenges I’ve faced.

I can think of no greater example than the fact that you are here, visiting my website, and reading some of the things I have to say. If it weren’t for the unexpected and difficult events in my life, I would never have had the opportunity to share this life with you. If it weren’t for the heartache or sense of struggle that I have undergone, I might not have learned how we have the ability to not just live but, in fact, do incredible things despite it. And, were it not for living so close to vulnerability, I might not have come to understand compassion, strength, or love as deeply as I have.

In varying degrees, that’s the case for all of us. It doesn’t take experiences like mine to know the depth of challenge, nor does it take experiences like mine to realize that there is purpose and beauty to be found in it. If coming in contact with my story might help some reach that understanding, then I couldn’t possibly think of any greater purpose in my life. After all, I would say that the best any of us can do is live our lives as best we can, and hope that we affect some people for the better along the way.




  1. Jennifer Nottage says:

    Aloha My name is Jennifer Nottage and my daughter, Halle Mae and I watched the “Brooke Ellison Story” for the second time yesterday evening. While the story touches my daughter (she’s 13 now) in very valuable intellectual ways; it touches me in my heart in profound ways. I come from a background that is simply devoid of nurturing, support, honesty, and commitment to name a few; and instead had much abandonment, hardship, abuse, pain, and shame to name a more few. My scars are on the inside; and can not be seen really; but daily my adult life has been a commitment to overcome what hurt so bad and nearly served to break my resolve to live. I am almost 46 today. And not a victim; but a survivor. I have two amazing children; who will not know the pain of a childhood left with the kinds of scars I’ve felt; and now am counseled enough to name. My children (ages 6 and 13) don’t ask at this point why their mother (me) doesn’t have a relationship with her mother; nor is there any sense of void coming from them about this interrupted maternal lineage. Sometimes that most crucial bond leaves no alternative but to be broken in order to thrive; survive; and live so differently than the messages from which a child was raised. I was raised as “not worthy” by word, deed and action. Your story is so poignant to me because it is a clear example of what limitless possibilities can occur when a child is believed in, loved unconditionally, and nurtured consistently and authentically. Today I know, more than any amount of money; degrees, pedigree and external opportunity, if there is not an innate and core sense of value; there will be no lasting success of any sort, by any definition. Daily I live knowing that a child who’s core sense of value was broken; can be built, or created; and that life can take on new freedom. Without; a soul lives in prison. I can say so much more; and would like to; it wasn’t my plan to write; I have children to get off to school and a day to begin; however; your story highlights in perfect contrast a life of freedom against incomprehensible (or almost) odds, and the far too common (and truly sad) life of imprisonment that is chosen due to that inner self’s lack of worth; unfortunately created by misguided, sick and many other variables parents or caregivers………….change is so possible; if only; to look within………..

  2. Thank you Miss Ellison, for sharing your vulnerabilities and self-explorations. Also, Miss Nottage, for sharing your life experiences with parents challenged by limitations in providing love and care. I find that sharing our own struggles helps many, even those we are unaware of, realize new things, strengths and weaknesses. Self-awareness is a constant path for me as a wife, mother and school social worker, always working to be better to myself and those around me. I did see the movie about your life, The Brooke Ellison Story, and the intimacy of your story, your life and the lives of your family members, was touching and teaching. I feel compelled to share my gratitude with you and your family, gratitude for sharing your stories in such an open, honest and vulnerable way. Like Miss Nottage, I was in a position to end any active relationship with my own mother, who’s mental health issues precluded her from maintaining a position of kindness, beyond her own internal struggles. This has left my daughter, 5, to ask many questions about my mother and why she will never me

    • (sorry, internet disconnected)
      …she will never meet her maternal grandmother. I try to answer as delicately as possible, telling the truth, while gauging that for her developmental age of 5. Because her experience is so different she has difficulty understanding how a mom could be anything but loving. It is comforting to know that, like Jennifer, there are others who have chosen to distance themselves from their mothers/fathers. In addition, that this cutting of those relationships has a positive impact on his/her lives, like mine. I wanted to thank you again for opening up your life to the viewing of others so that we might learn from your experiences, to the degree that we might imagine that experience. I have learned, as will my daughter, and so many others! I am grateful, and this during the Thanksgiving season makes sense to share it with you.


  4. I stumbled upon the Brook Ellison Story by accident on you-tube. I paused the movie right after you were handed some lemon drops. I had an unstoppable urge to look you up on Wikipedia. Your story is like a lighthouse to many people and you are a very brave and intelligent women. You certainly have more strength than I. I have read a couple of your blog entries and will eventually read them all. Until next time, a big smile and a wave goodbye.

  5. charle min says:

    Watched the movie today and Googled you and here I am. Thank you for inspiring me today, and revealing that lightness out of the lengthening shadow :). Charle Min.

  6. Charle Min says:

    Watched the movie today, had to Google you and here I am. Thank you for revealing the inspiring light out from the lengthening shadow (I’ve been in). God bless you!